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Monday, March 2, 2009

BJ-LEAGUE

Sojourner spring leads Broncos past Apache


Staff writer

Veteran forward Isaac Sojourner made an immediate impact when he joined the Saitama Broncos, scoring 28 points in his Broncos debut on Jan. 30.

The 33-year-old proved he still has plenty of spring in his step, especially on the defensive end, in Saitama's 83-74 triumph over the Tokyo Apache at Saitama City Memorial Gymnasium on Sunday.

Sojourner, nephew of the late ABA and Italian League player Willie Sojourner, had 11 points, 12 rebounds and a game-changing five blocks in 25 busy minutes, helping the Broncos (14-22) salvage a series split. Sojourner had a 14-point, 15-rebound effort in 24 minutes off the bench in Saturday's game.

Sojourner, who previously played sparingly for the Takamatsu Five Arrows, has said in past interviews that he feels he can be a productive go-to player if given more playing time.

This series proved his point.

It also proved that Reggie Warren, who had a 32-point, 11-rebound, five-assist performance, remains one of the bj-league's best forwards. He scored 42 points on Saturday.

Point guard Taishiro Shimizu added 14 points and a season-high nine assists for David Benoit's club. Newcomer Yuen Austin Lee, a former Seattle Pacific University and Taiwanese League point guard, had nine points, four assists and four steals in his second game with Saitama.

Tizzo Johnson led the Apache (23-13) with 14 points, while Nick Davis scored 14 and Cohey Aoki 11. Shooting guard Masashi Joho was 4-for-17 from the field, and two-time bj-league scoring champion John "Helicopter" Humphrey was 1-for-10 on field-goal attempts in the loss.

Also Sunday, Jeff Newton had 18 points and cleared 12 rebounds and Shigeyuki Kinjo poured in 16 points in the Ryukyu Golden Kings' 87-56 win over the host Shiga Lakestars.

Anthony McHenry, Taketo Aoki and Yosuke Ogasawara added nine points apiece as Ryukyu improved its league-best record to 28-8.

The Golden Kings led 24-8 after one quarter.

Ray Schafer paced Shiga (13-23) with 11 points.

Elsewhere, Michael Gardener put 29 points on the board and handed out 10 assists and Marcus Morrison scored 21 to spark the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix to a 104-85 home victory over the Toyama Grouses.

Sun Ming Ming had his second straight 14-point outing for the Phoenix (25-11). The 236-cm giant finished the weekend with a pair of 7-for-8 shooting games, including 10 dunks. Perhaps it's a sign that his aching knees have gained strength as the season progresses.

Jerod Ward's 25 points led Toyama, which fell to 10-26.

Despite a relentless comeback in the final minutes, the Oita HeatDevils dropped an 86-85 decision to the host Osaka Evessa.

Lynn Washington, who finished with a game-best 29 points, sank four free throws in the final minute to clinch the win for the Evessa (22-14).

Trailing 69-57 after three quarters, Oita (7-29) closed the gap to 81-79. Washington increased the lead to four at the foul line with 49 seconds left. Then, it was 84-83 in Osaka's favor when the former Indiana University player visited the charity stripe with 11 seconds left. He made them both, and the HeatDevils scored again - a two-pointer - to account for the game's final margin.

Oita's David Reichel had a season-high 25 points in the loss.

For Osaka, Nile Murry added 22 points, Naoto Nakamura had 13, while Ryan Blackwell continues to look like a savvy late-season addition (eight points, nine rebounds).

The Takamatsu Five Arrows topped the host Rizing Fukuoka 78-70, getting 23 points and 13 boards from center Babacar Camara in the first game since their 11-game winning streak was halted.

Matt Garrison (17 points, 15 rebounds), Yu Okada (15 points), Kazuyuki Nakagawa (11 points, five assists) and Rasheed Sparks (eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists) also played prominent roles in the Five Arrows' triumph.

Takamatsu improved to 26-10.

Michael Parker paced Fukuoka (15-21) with 29 points and Takanori Goya contributed 12.

Chris Holm sank a game-winning free throw with 1:37 remaining in the Sendai 89ers' 76-75 win over the host Niigata Albirex BB.

There were three ties in the fourth quarter of this nip-and-tuck contest.

The difference, however, was Sendai's game-ending 6-0 run.

Holm tied it at 75-75 on a putback with 2:22 remaining. On the 89ers' previous scoring play, Kenichi Takahashi drained a 3-pointer to pull the visitors within two.

Bobby St. Preux led Sendai (18-18) with 20 points, and Holm had 14 points and 19 rebounds. Hikaru Kusaka added five assists.

Paul Butorac had 19 points for Niigata (15-21) and Makoto Hasegawa, who turns 38 on April 2, finished with a season-high 18 points.



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